Friday, November 5, 2010

Pay attention to your surroundings

One thing I always try to do on board a bus is pay attention to my surroundings. It something every person should do. Even if you're taking a nap on board, at least make sure you're in a good position to do so or something, and not end up snoring on someone else's shoulder.

There was one person who obviously didn't know how to do that. I was on a bus between Surrey Central Station and South Surrey. It was a New Flyer D40LFR bus. I hate these buses because their newer "hook" restraints are incredibly difficult to use. They're supposed to be an improvement but require a million hands just to get strapped in. Another disadvantage to these buses is how the front seats flip up three seats at a time on one side. That's much more room than I need, and it sucks that others can't at least flip down the seat close to the wheel.

So anyways, I was getting on a bus at Surrey Central Station. I got myself strapped/hooked in and such, and we were ready to go. It was getting dark and the bus was semi-full. One guy, whom I'll call Clueless Guy, decided that he wanted to sit down. He saw that the area in front of me was wide open, and decided to flip down the seat to sit down.

Clueless Guy didn't notice that the seats flipped down all at once. He was in a huge hurry to sit down, for some reason. So he grabbed the seat closest to the front wheel, and flipped it down without even looking around. The seat closest to me slammed right down on my wheelchair and pinched a flap of skin on my thigh -- and I can feel that part. He sat down with all his might, and that flap of skin got sandwiched between my wheelchair cushion and the seat that just slammed down on me. OUCH SON OF A [BLEEP].

I tried to get his attention but he was looking out the window (at what, I don't know, since it was dark). Some other passengers who realized the situation tried to get his attention as well, but Clueless Guy seemed to be ignoring them. Eventually we did get his attention -- only to find out that he didn't speak a word of English (and probably didn't understand the "excuse me?"s and "sir?"s coming from us). He had no idea what he did wrong, until the bus arrived at a stop and the lights turned on.

He got off, and tried to lift the seat. But there was a problem. On these new buses, in order to lift the seat, it must go completely down first. The seat he sat down on went completely down, but the side that was pinching my thigh and trapping my wheelchair didn't. I was stuck.

The driver looked at the situation and then looked at his location. He was kind of in the middle of Surrey with a fairly packed bus. Eventually I freed up my thigh flap, but my wheelchair was still stuck because the seat was pinning down my wheelchair. Since my body was physically freed, the driver decided to call in a supervisor to meet us at Newton Exchange and asked us to make sure people don't sit down on those seats for the time being.

I'm not sure if it was due to the language barrier or what, but Clueless Guy didn't offer much in terms of an apology. He pretty much ignored me until his stop. I don't know, maybe he was embarrassed. I don't blame him for being embarrassed, but he should've really paid attention to what he was doing beforehand. I mean, when you pull down one seat but get three coming down at once, there's got to be a reason for that.

Finally after some huffing and puffing, we did get my wheelchair freed at Newton Exchange. Luckily my chair is a high-end one made of titanium (made by this company), so any scratches can simply be buffed up and it'd look like new again.

Let this be a lesson -- it doesn't matter how tired you are, or how dark it is. Please pay attention to what you're doing and pay attention to your surroundings on board the bus. You never know what can happen if you don't, because unexpected things like these can and do happen.

Also, thank goodness some of the newest TransLink buses have seats that can be flipped up one at a time. It's good for avoiding situations such as this one, and also good when a wheelchair user's friend can sit at eye level to chat.

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